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Knights use rescheduled meet as dress rehearsal

The Rutgers swimming and diving team faces its first Big East competition today when it hosts Georgetown, Seton Hall and Villanova in its final home meet of the season.

The quad meet, originally scheduled for October, was postponed because of Hurricane Sandy. It now acts as a primer for the upcoming Big East Championships and will give an indication of where the Scarlet Knights stand in the conference.

“It’s going to be very important to get this quad meet in for a better understanding of where we are swimming-wise and diving-wise for when we go into the Big East Championships,” said senior co-captain Katie Kearney.

The late scheduling bridges a gap between the end of the season and the conference championships.

“I’m glad we have [the meet] right now,” said senior co-captain Taylor Zafir. “Instead of taking a month off before the Big East Championships, we’re going to be a little fresher when we get [there] because we have this meet. We want to keep everything sharp and ready.”

Head coach Phil Spiniello would like to see the Knights decrease their relay times for better seeding at the Big East Championships in three weeks.

Villanova is the only Knights opponent entering the meet on a winning note. The Wildcats defeated Richmond last weekend, along with William & Mary.

While Villanova had a difficult time with Richmond — winning only 162-135 — the Knights downed the Spiders on Jan. 18 by a score of 219-80.

Seton Hall enters off of a loss to Marist, while George Washington edged Georgetown in its last meet, 147-146.

Rutgers looks to build off victories against Fordham and Rider two weeks ago.

“I think having a whole Big East-squad meet this close to the Big East Championship meet is great,” Spiniello said. “It’s a preview of the competition we’re going to be up against in three weeks and gives us an opportunity to race and dive against these Big East teams in our home pool.”

The meet is the final home competition for Kearney and Zafir, along with seniors Victoria Macqueda and Melanie Gaffey.

The team will have a short ceremony to honor the seniors tomorrow morning, before the second day of competition.

“It’s nerve-wracking, it’s exciting, but it’s kind of sad that it is the last home meet and that my career is coming to an end,” Kearney said. “It means a lot that as a senior, I’ve gone this far.”

Zafir said she is enjoying her teammates and coaching staff for the final few meets. She will have family in attendance this weekend, along with Rutgers alumni there to support.

“I’m really just excited to finish off on a good note,” she said.

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